May 1, 2014

New scam involves shipping items for online acquaintances, Parker County sheriff warns

Parker County sheriff’s investigators learn of new scam that involves con artists getting people to ship expensive items bought with stolen credit cards to a foreign country.

Usually, scam artists ask you to give a little to get a lot in return.

But in a new scheme, the thieves initially shower their marks with gifts and then later ask them to ship other expensive items to foreign countries, the Parker County sheriff’s department reported Thursday. The items, it turned out, were all purchased with a stolen credit card.

Sheriff’s investigators learned of the scam after a woman contacted them on April 16, reporting that a man she had met on a website had begun sending her gifts. As the online relationship progressed, the woman told investigators, more expensive gifts began arriving at her house, but this time, the man asked her to ship them to an out-of-country address.

Suspicious, the woman instead turned over all the items over to the sheriff’s department. That included a 55-inch TV, two gold and diamond rings, three gold necklaces with jewels, two smart phones, and clothing and shoes for men, women and children.

“She was flattered, but she was smart enough to say, ‘There’s something wrong here’,” sheriff’s Deputy Danie Huffman, a department spokeswoman, said.

With some digging, Huffman said, investigators discovered that the items had all been purchased with a stolen credit card.

Typically in such scams, items shipped out of country are sold for profit. If the targets ship the items as requested, they become an unintentional middle man in the scam, Huffman said.

“So when this credit card gets stolen and it’s reported, they have these unapproved purchases on the account,” Huffman said. “It traces back to the victim. Then they’re questioning them about the identity theft.”

Huffman said this was the first such case seen in Parker County.

“We want to make the public aware of these scams and caution them against associating with a person they are not familiar with,” especially someone who approaches them on the Internet, Sheriff Larry Fowler said in a news release.

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